This month Hollywood is releasing a movie loosely based on the story of Noah. Muslims are complaining because it isn’t true to the Koran. Christians are complaining because it isn’t true to the biblical text. And other people are complaining because they wish it wasn’t Russell Crowe who was cast as the leading role. Fair enough.
But let’s keep our minds open just a tad. Open enough to encourage dialogue instead of dismissing the movie altogether just because we think it’s just another Hollywood attempt that completely gets the facts wrong.
There is power in storycentric communication– even when it is Hollywood’s version.
The picture we Christians paint of Noah is that of a boat with a couple of cute giraffes sticking their heads out the window. And the hippos and monkeys are smiling. Always smiling. There’s a dove and rainbow somewhere in there and a catchy tune about “40 days and 40 nights.” And God promised he would never flood the earth like that again. The end.
Perhaps that is the way we tell it to our children, except even in our re-telling it as adults we simply read the text and move on.
Be honest, when was the last time we really engaged with the story of Noah?
Step in the story. Interact with the characters. Feel the rain. Smell the animals. Think about what this says about the God of the universe and what that means for you and for me.
In fact, the world was wicked. So wicked that God decided to destroy the whole planet with a disaster that would obliterate every single creature on dry land who had nostrils. And then to put all of the world’s hope in one family that was dysfunctional at best. Just read the chapters after they had after their rainbow feast to see this.
I wasn’t there, but once the rain started falling and confirmed that Noah wasn’t as delusional as he was made out to be, it’s a pretty sure bet that people began to scramble and fight and kill and claw their way onto the ark because their very survival as an entire human race was at stake, maybe turning into a full-blown war. And the gazelle probably wasn’t smiling next to the lion when the gazelle instinctively knows that it is in the lion’s very nature to eat him for lunch.
And, yes, it rained for forty days and nights, but these people and all these unhappy animals were sequestered on that boat for more than 12 months. I can’t even sit for 12 hours in a car with my family without getting into disagreements. But 12 months!?!?! God just told them, “get on the boat.” He never told them when they would get off the boat. For all they knew they would be floating on water for the rest of their lives. That gazelle looks good to a lot of creatures right about now. No fire to keep them warm from the relentless wet rain since it was, in fact, a wooden boat.
And the kind of water that destroys an entire planet?
Can we imagine the size of the waves and the ruthless winds from the storms!?!?!
Through all this it never says that Noah crawled into a corner and gave up. Perhaps because he had clung to the one thing that was left in his arsenal: hope.
Yes, there is power in storycentric communication.
The story of Noah is not cute. It’s not even an appropriate bedtime story. It’s raw and real. It’s a picture of God’s wrath…and of God’s mercy.
Is this Hollywood movie accurate to the biblical text?
I don’t know because I haven’t seen the movie yet. But, just for the sake of conversation, let’s say the movie is really not accurate. Let’s say it completely goes against everything we know about Noah and the message God gives us by sharing with us the biblical story.
So, here’s a question- if that is really so, then why aren’t we telling the story better?
Why are we letting Hollywood tell the story- and their version of it- for us?